Australian Tree Fern ( Cyathea australis )

This fern will grow into a palm like tree. Like a palm it will shed lower branches along the trunk as it grows. It is a fast growing fern.

It prefers full sun and moist soil. This one spent its first year in my garden in a dry, shady location. I moved it to a sunnier, damper spot so it should do much better this year. I lost one of the three I had planted just from a lack of water. The two remaining are in full sun in the afternoon and a very damp, boggy area of the yard. They are thriving now.

This plant is neither drought nor cold tolerant. The ones not wiped out in the drought of ’09 were killed by cold in the winter of ’09-’10.

It also wants lots of organic matter, so be free handed with the mulch or organic fertilizers around this plant.

The tree can reach 20m in height and fronds can be as large as 4-6m in length.

I love these plants but the colder winters keep killing them off

Things to watch for on ferns:

Leaf scotch: appears during dry, windy weather.  Water frequently and deeply and provide what shade and shelter you can.  I’ve really had a problem with leaf scorch on these ferns in the spring of 2008.

Scale: looks like small brown bumps on stems and underside of leaves.  I use orange oil.

Mealy bugs: Looks like white fuzz on plants, I just wash them off with a garden hose.

I would love to have a forest of tree ferns. But it’s too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter and overall too dry in NW Houston. I have seen some more east and south of here, but even then it’s dicey

Australian Tree Fern, dividing and potting